Monthly Archives: May 2011


1. Critical appraisal

 Parallel Connections

Curatorial Project:  Group Exhibition

Wednesday the 8th of June 2011

From  18:30 to 20:30 

Wayward Gallery

47  Mowlen Street 

Bethnal Green


E2 9EH

Curated by: John Angel Rodriguez

In our globalized era everything is being standardized by the patterns of consumer culture and the tribute to the beauty which has generated kind of molded body. In this order the idealization of the body appears as a premise to sell all kinds of products and services. The aesthetic of the body is presented in perfect panoramas and pristine scenarios, where the notion of abjection does not have a place. Throughout art history the traditions of the representation and presentation of the body have included experiments with different transformations. But basically the notion of the body has corresponded to a cultural expression linked to the contextual period where it has taken place. In Modernism, Surrealism was one of the movements which most experimented and played with the idea of distorted bodies. The Surrealists were very concerned with the deconstruction of the formalist concept of optical purity[1], radically changing the way in which we perceive art within the white cube. Their models of displaying art and narratives were considered deviant art, as they used forms and experiences where the body appeared distorted, decadent and associated with sexual abstract situations. Surrealism is one of the many Modernist movements whose concerns are now being re-cycled. Nicolas Bourriaud has called this action ‘alter modern’, where the reloading processes are an attempt to generate singularity in today’s global context[2].

This reaction against standardization and commercialism is one of the main themes of the exhibition Parallel Connections. The artists taking part in this collaborative project are playing with notions such as mimetism; bodily fragmentation and an interest in bodily fluids and excretions – whether physiological or cultural – and the limitations of the speech regarding to the narrative and interpretation within it.

The concept that may better integrate these concerns is that of abjection described by Julia Kristeva[3]. She has argued that the abject has the quality of being opposed to a proper and definable speaking object, the non-object. The abject as neither subject, nor object: “Not me. Not that. But not nothing, either. A “something” that I do not recognize as a thing” and, significantly, something situated outside the symbolic order. In this framework the non-object to redefine will be the body and its relationship between the forms of presentation and exhibition in the context of contemporary art practices.

A shared feature in the practice of these artists is a reconfiguration of the repertoire of abject images. My curatorial purpose is not to offer an art historical account of how this concept has been incorporated as a provocation; on the contrary I will be pointing out how contemporary cultural circumstances have aroused a need for controversy, one where such artistic manifestations are a form of contestation towards the highly developed capitalist order.

Abjection implies a sense of rejection. What I intend to do with this abject body is to expand this concept towards the art audiences as a form of reactionary gesture, against the accelerated circulation of the trendy notions spread by globalization, such as the strategies of seduction used by mass media communication, banality as a life style and the cult to of beauty as a way of identifying ourselves with a moulded and artificial body. To achieve this objective the exhibition is developed in two platforms. On the one hand there is the in-situ installation created by the invited artists, on the other hand there are a variety of complementary activities proposed by the artists to integrate the targeted and the local communities in interactive participation. These events will be performances, workshops and talks.

The hybrid imagery that Laura Clarke uses in her works evokes Eadweard Muybridge’s sequential studies of the movements of the body, but she has replaced the dancers and choreographers of Muybridge by hybrids, who resemble figures from the ancient Greek myths. Her bizarre and symbolic uncanny bodies establish a bridge between their mechanical appearance and the media that she has used to make her artworks. Clarke has been exploring the possibilities of photo etching and film to display serial pieces in a site-specific installation. The characters are amorphous hybrids whose mechanical movements give us the impression of displacement while they are performing; their actions become an element of uncanniness. The body of the automaton, even the abject body which has been relegated to the depths of oblivion, appears in her installations to be contaminated with the same dehumanization caused by globalization.

James Unsworth manifests an interest in bodily fluids and excretions; in his drawings and videos there is continuity between grotesque humor and excess. A key concept of his artworks is the ability of the gaze to sexualize any kind of situation – this also being a strong feature of advertising media in recent years. His characters are literal extensions of desire that he has taken from the terrifying impact of the triptychs of Hieronymus Bosch in which he has found aspects ranging from perverse positions to the impossibility imposed by morality, religion and law. For this reason his imagery implies an ability to imagine the abject. The abjection operates in these compositions in the role of a pervert-curator who confronts dichotonomy between categories such as prohibition, obedience and transgression. The painful alterations and the dramatic performances that Unsworth configures may be comparable to the abject truth of sexuality as found inSodomandGomorrah. In comparison to this, the orgiastic nature of his scenes acts as a metaphor for breaking society’s rules, or going beyond normal physical contexts.

Aukje Dekker’s installation uses the mimetism and the repetition to filter the repugnance of an abject action. Puking rainbows transforms the vomit’s detritus in painting, in her video loop the nausea becomes a performing action. She removes the abject essence of bodily fluids, leaving just the violent convulsion as a protest against the academic context where she showed this piece for the first time. She wanted to express a sense of rejection towards the symbolic system of evaluation, while unveiling its fragile attempts to objectify the subjective content of her artwork. The sense of traitor and rebel that she experienced was an act of abjection, turning her disturbing feelings into an installation that constitutes a mimetic gesture of dissatisfaction. She transforms everything: the fluids in painting, the painting in light and subsequently the light in patterns.

 Coloured Chain Sequence


Christian de la Riva has used the fragmentation of the body as a way to exorcise his feelings of disintegration following a break up; his animations representing the process of detachment from his former partner. After his collapse of internal emotions he chose to invest all his feeling in sadomasochist experience. In order to fulfill this purpose he performed a series of mutilations and, while simulating these actions, he filmed himself, subsequently using this footage as a reference to create animated cartoons in black and white. The results are elaborate animations composed of lively and organic line drawings. He could transfer his destructive desires into a material form that, at the same time, is making a bridge between conscious and unconscious neuroses.

Complementary activities

A. Light and performance

This activity will be delivered by the Artist Tomas Rydin in sessions of 30 min his intention is to invite the local audience to a situation where people could use their bodies as well as their eyes. One specific example of his performances is Gravity overrated presented in Cosmic Mega Brain London 2009. Tomas describes his projects as follows:

“I have moved into a native techno-tent where I controlled the sounds and the beats synchronized with the sun projected behind the set. It is still not the sun moving in relationship to our body, it is just our perspective”[4].

This action solicited the audience participation’s, to engage the visitors Rydin establish a situation of perception of their bodies painting them with light, so the visitor is invited to play with the artist in a spontaneous dance which focused on a deliberated perception of the body magnified by the effect of the projection and the beats.

Studies of the light II

Photography 100 x 45 cms


Thomas Rydin is an artist who has been researching and experimenting about the relationship between light and our perception of the body.

This led him to integrate visual devices and actions in participative performances where the audience is touched by his projections, turning viewers into participants. While he performs he uses video and light projectors as a form of re-evaluating every day routine movements, he sees this as an opportunity to display a sense of union between the body and the world that surround us nowadays, which has been invaded for any kind of light receptacles and displayers. This offer to the members of his audience a space to think about their own bodies and the effects that light has on them.

B. Interactive intervention

This intervention will be made by Andres Londoño he has found similarities between a performance and an event. Both unfold in real time and incorporate any incident or accident that might happen along the way. To this respect an event may be understood as a communal act involving more people and incorporating some kind of ritual activity and the performance relies on the sense transmitted to the audience by the performer. Combining these two notions Londoño has made a field research based on an artwork made by the artist Sasha Archibald in New York in 1997 who found on a US News and world report that more Americans spend more money on Night clubs than on all other forms of live theater. “Performance art for the working class”

He has translated this concern to different cities such as London and Bogotá; his first attempt to produce this project rises when he was living in London he found fascinating the exercises and routines played by these night dancers as they have a relationship with the abject act of filthy sex. To fade those connotations he has used light and objects to refer to this practice, but the striper instead of undressing while performing the choreography, steps back and dresses a white cape which serves as a canvas where some photos of his paintings of mould are projected. He hides the pristine figure of the performer to transfer on her surface traces of decadence and how the pass of the time leaves clues on walls that give us abstracts forms that seems to be decomposed portraits.

 KunstomerService is the Andres Londoño´s platform to generate art events by commission to exhibitions and fairs to make it work properly. Its main prompt is to get involved with the public, asking for complaints, suggestions and achievements. In that order the service creates a dialog that is intended to establish an aesthetical result.

Performance Commissioned by the Magazine Arteria for ArtBO

International Art fair 2010


Video Performance: Light mapping devices

Alistair Burleigh in Collaboration with Alise Piebalga



University of Westminster


No one is anyone; one single immortal man is all men. Like Cornelius Agrippa, I am god, I am hero, I am philosopher, I am demon and I am world, which is a tedious way of saying that I do not exist’ (Borges, 2000 p.145)

The unattainable complexity of the experience of living and the de-construction/re-construction of the notion of ‘I am’ is the concept behind Alistair Burleigh’s (Wrap3) and Alise Piebalga’s installation.

Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’ story The Immortal, the installation becomes a desperate game between a virtual consciousness and the physical body of the performer, who is trying to attain unification by re-constructing her virtual self. The virtual consciousness is presented as a fragmented voice and body by three unique self contained projection cubes that are maneuvered by the performer who reacts to the ever prevailing fragmentation of her digital self.

The osmotic relationship between the two create a strange and desperate dance supported by the soundtrack of the fragmented story written by Borges of a man finding immortality only to realise that he is never one, never whole and always fragmented.

3. Artists brief Portfolio


Alistair Burleigh

Site specific installation

Aukje Dekker

Puking rainbows

Video installation

3 min loop


James Unsworth




Courtesy of the Gallery Five Houndred Dollars



Laura Clarke


Studies of the human

Variable dimensions



Kristian de La Riva  


Still from his video animation 

Loop 8 min 2009                     




[1] Foster, Hal, Compulsive Beauty, an October book, The MIT Press:Cambridge,Massachusetts &London,England, 1993, pp 12 – 14

[2] “Artists are looking for a new modernity that would be based on translation: What matters today is to translate the cultural values of cultural groups and to connect them to the world network. This “reloading process” of modernism according to the twenty-first-century issues could be called altermodernism, a movement connected to the creolisation of cultures and the fight for autonomy, but also the possibility of producing singularities in a more and more standardized world.”

Nicolas Bourriaud; TateBritain(Gallery); Tate Triennial Exhibition of Contemporary British Art, 2009 (London) Tate Publishing

[3] Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: an essay on abjection,Columbia University Press:New York,USA, 1982, pp1 – 3